The Tim Buckley Archives

The Fans

My Favorite Things, Part Deux…

Favorite Father and Son Team

by Mark Fogerty

Tim Buckley snagged my attention in the late 1960s with an astonishing album and song, Goodbye and Hello, beautiful, moody, apocalyptic acid-folk that followed an underappreciated more-of-the-same debut, Tim Buckley. (Song for Jainie from Tim’s first record remains one of my favorite hippie songs of all time.)

Back when Vietnam War movies or TV shows (China Beach) were the rage, you would often hear Tim’s sensitive, dead-on Viet commentary, No Man Can Find the War playing on the soundtrack. Tim had a poetic sensibility (although his lyrics were often contributed by a writing partner, Larry Beckett) and a gorgeous baritone voice with a tenor range that would make you stop and listen.

He probably could have worked the poetic troubadour routine for the next four decades, but the musically adventurous Tim began to wander, first to the moody blues of Blue Afternoon and then to the Coltrane-crazy jazz explorations of Starsailor, an album I admire the heck out of but find very hard to listen to. His live performances could be abrupt (he had the tendency to walk off if provoked) or drunk, but were magical when you caught him right. (Check out Dream Letter, a live-from-London CD put out a few years back that catches him at absolute high tide.)

Tim’s last years saw yet another change, to road-warrior R&B and a couple of rather forgettable drudgy rock albums. Sefronia is the only title that comes to mind but there were a couple of others. Drugs got in his way, and his habit of staying clean on the road and loading up while not caught up with him in a harrowing overdose that killed him at the 60s-victims age of 27 or 28.

One of the things Tim left behind besides his legend and his fine music was a son, Jeff Buckley, who when he grew up bore his father’s look, voice and manner. Jeff Buckley had an even purer tenor than Dad’s, and he was marked for greatness from his first appearances in New York bars like Sin-E. (You can often hear Jeff’s tenor on TV soundtracks when they use his haunt-y version of Hallelujah.)

His great 1990s debut album Grace made several records-of-the century lists, and features a back cover photo of him in a stairwell where he appears to be floating! Unfortunately, gravity and destiny conspired against him, and while recording in Memphis Jeff had a misadventure. He walked out into the Mississippi River, clothes on, and drowned in the Father of Waters.

He was thirty years old. Boy, if you could ask for one back, you’d ask for Jeff Buckley back.

© Mark Fogerty

In addition to being a fan, Mark Fogarty has also played in bands, recorded and performed live, and written for music publications, and he describes these experiences in his book Went to see the Gypsy an account of rock’s golden age, told by a writer who has been fascinated by its music and musicians since the Beatles invaded America.

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